CSL Round Up - 8 August 2015
The title may not mathematically be theirs yet but it is surely only a matter of time until Clydesdale are crowned champions.
During the last few weeks the Titwood side have confronted several daunting challenges – including defending a meagre total at Drumpellier and chasing tricky ones against Ferguslie and East Kilbride – and calmly overcome each one.
On Saturday they faced closest challengers Kelburne and, thanks to a masterful century from Richie Berrington, dismissed them with apparent ease.
Berrington had missed those earlier wins due to international commitments but he made his first club appearance in more than a month a memorable one for all who witnessed it.
His unbeaten 101 was paced to perfection and ensured that Clydesdale recovered from a shaky start to post a formidable 244-9.
His effort, which included seven boundaries and one arrowed maximum, drew warm praise from skipper Majid Haq who said: “That was the best innings I have seen in a long time – Richie just took control.”
Dale manager Colin Mitchell elaborated when he added: “Richie was a class apart.
“On a pitch that wasn’t easy he found gaps and ways to rotate the strike. To score 244 after a stuttering start and a few wobbles was testament to the way Richie played.”
Sent in to bat, the leaders had been hit by the loss of Haq and Mo Awais early on before Berrington strode to the crease.
He first shared in a stand of 62 with Kasim Farid, the latter scoring a purposeful 36 before edging behind off Steve McLister.
Berrington added a further 48 with Con de Lange but then watched as Dougie Wylie ran through Clydesdale’s middle order.
The left-arm spinner removed de Lange, courtesy of a fine tumbling catch by Jamie Macdonald in the deep, before accounting for Paddy Barbour, Sam Page and Abdul Sabri in quick succession.
Zeeshan Bashir also chipped-in with two wickets as Clydesdale collapsed from 140-3 to 205-9.
However, due to Berrington’s composure and skill in manipulating the strike, the home side were able to add a further 39 runs, the Scotland player reaching his century in the final over with a boundary to wide long-on.
He did ride his luck on occasions as Kelburne spilled several costly catches while Wylie, who had to be content with figures of 4-66, was convinced he had trapped the centurion lbw early in his innings.
Kelburne, deflated at having allowed their rivals to claim the initiative, never got into their stride in reply and only Brad Williams, with 30, offered any meaningful resistance while de Lange claimed 5-12 and Haq 3-7 as the Paisley men collapsed to 66 all out.
This was the first time all season that Clydesdale had been at full-strength and Mitchell added: “Richie’s innings today is only meaningful because other players have worked so hard when he wasn’t available.”
Kelburne captain Qasim Sheikh, whose return to his former club ended in disappointment, admitted: “We were fairly outplayed by a good unit.
“Clydesdale certainly look the best team in the league this year.”
Kelburne have been replaced in second spot by neighbours Ferguslie who carved out a 38-run win over Dumfries at Meikleriggs.
Zimbabwean Keith Dabengwa made 81 in a total of 215-9 while the visitors were kept in check by the home bowlers for whom Greg Cameron claimed 4-30.
That effort was eclipsed by former Saltires leg-spinner Moneeb Iqbal whose 6-30 helped East Kilbride beat Uddingston to stay on the fringes of the title race.
At the other end of the table Renfrew’s relegation was virtually sealed by their 24-run defeat at Drumpellier, a result which was also bad news for second bottom West of Scotland.
West needed victory over Ayr at Hamilton Crescent to boost their survival prospects but instead came off second best to the McElnea brothers, skipper Andi taking 4-37 to seal an 80-run win after younger sibling Scott had scored 101 to propel the visitors to 223.
CSL Eastern Premier
ARBROATH skipper Marc Petrie has scoffed at suggestions that his side are now hot favourites to land the Eastern Premiership honours.
He delivered his cautious verdict immediately after leading them to the top of the table with only two matches left in the campaign.
Petrie admitted he could not have written a more pleasing script.
While Arbroath were demolishing Heriot’s at Goldenacre, previous pacesetters Grange were being slapped down by capital rivals Carlton at Raeburn Place.
The captain declared: “It was an excellent Saturday for us, but the job is far from being over.
“We have extremely tough matches to deal with against Forfarshire and Watsonians and there is scope for plenty to happen over the next fortnight.
“Lots of hard work is still required if we are to be in with a shout and nothing will be taken for granted.”
On the victory over Heriot’s, Petrie stated: “Brendon Ford and Jack Waller gave us the ideal platform by hitting half centuries.
“Then a fine stand by Fraser Burnett and Harris Carnegie against a good spin attack enabled us to reach 245 for eight.
“Our opening bowlers - Brendon and Matthew Hurst - hit their marks immediately, as they have been doing over the past few weeks and the momentum was carried on by the rest of the attack.”
The hosts were bundled out for 79, with Waller and Hurst each snapping up three scalps.
Heriot’s captain Keith Morton said: “Arbroath’s fate is in their hands now, so they would have to be favourites.
“They have a great continuity spirit which other sides lack. I think that has played a big part in getting them into this position.”
Along the road, the decisive moments came at the launch of Carlton’s response to a tally of 140.
Grange’s hopes was effectively ended when Fraser Watts and Roy McCloy smashed 33 from the first three overs sent down by John Blain and Raj Rotary.
The grit and experience of Watts (42 not out) shone through as he remained at the crease until victory was achieved - Scotland skipper Preston Mommsen completing a brisk unbeaten 50.
Forfarshire skipper Craig Wallace bounced back to prime batting form by whacking 128 against Watsonians.
But his effort wasn’t enough to stave off a high-scoring defeat at Myreside.
Matthew Parker chipped in with 60 as Shire cruised to 284 for seven before Andrew Chalmers (83 not out) and Andrew Fraser-Harris (82) stole the limelight with a stand of 148.
Elsewhere, the absence of newlywed skipper Safyaan Sharif was barely noticed when Falkland routed Stoneywood-Dyce at Scroggie Park - thanks mainly to a remarkable spell of seven for 13 by Ben Strachan.
And at Inverleith, an hat-trick from Harsha Cooray was the highlight of Aberdeenshire’s expected win against whipping boys RH Corstorphine.
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Alec Davies could be labelled the ultimate professional amateur - a cricket enthusiast who never gives less than 100 per cent when he is involved.
The high point in his long career was arguably his participation in the 1999 World Cup, when he emerged as one of the tidiest wicketkeepers in the tournament.
No one who was in the crowd at Chester-le-Street will forget the slickness of the stumping off Nick Dyer that got rid of Pakistan legend Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Davies. however, may have reached a fresh personal pinnacle on Saturday when he helped Glenrothes snuff out the challenge of chief chasers SMRH to secure the Championship crown and promotion play off.
He said: “It has been very satisfying playing with guys a lot younger than me - very different to past cricketing challenges, but ranks in the top bracket of achievements.”
It was a sweet experience at Inverleith for Davies and his up-and-coming Fifers, who have certainly wiped away the bitter memory of missing out to Corstorphine at the final hurdle 12 months ago.
To their credit, SMRH made the Glens scramble at times for their success, with Chris Greaves (80 not out) guiding them to the 182 target with six wickets and more than six overs to spare.
Davies admitted he will be happy to step aside from first-team demands in the event of promotion to the Premiership.
He stated: “I would hope the club will find a younger player to take the gloves. When a club go up, they usually attract new recruits.”
The most dramatic finish of the weekend came in the capital derby between hosts Edinburgh CC and Holy Cross, which resulted in a rare tie.